"Syd is likely a character that will be relatable to readers who have experienced mental illness...Her mental illness, mainly anxiety and depression, is handled well and rings true. It is neither glamorized nor sensationalized. It is nuanced...
The Most Dangerous Thing isn't the first YA book to talk about mental illness, or desire, but the intersection of the two feels novel and important...People living with or interested in mental illness, teens who are starting to confront sexuality, those interested in modern Judaism, and people who like slice of life novels will certainly find something to enjoy here."
"This title for me was a welcome change from the traditional YA romance. I consider myself middle of the road in terms of romance that tackles things of a sexual nature. Leanne covered the subject in a very tasteful way in my opinion. I won't give too much away, but I loved seeing her feelings for Paul develop. It made me think back to my first love and the nervous excitement of each new day...I also enjoyed how she tackled the subject of depression. I myself am a sufferer and I thought her use of the 'fog' in order to describe when the sadness is looming to be a very effective description."
"The richness of Leanne's novels makes them a fascinating read for both adults and young adults. The story is complex and rewarding, and the themes are significant...But what kept me reading long into the night was the writing."
The Kingston Whig-Standard
"This is a quiet, gentle novel that conveys not just Sydney's pain, but also her courageous attempts to dispel the fog, even when it seems to be winning."
"Lieberman handles many heavy topics in a way that is both realistic and gentle, offering readers a chance to grapple with these ideas through a main character that is relatable…An interesting and timely angle on female sexuality and feminism from the perspective of a teenager trying to understand what they mean to her."
Association of Jewish Libraries
"This book felt very real to me—accuarate in its emotional content. Its voice is poignant and believable. It reminded me of how perplexing it felt to fall in love for the first time. I must also high-five Leanne Lieberman for the wonderful way she addresses the issues of female desire; it's done in a way that feels both honest and non-judgmental…Teens will relate to this story on many different levels. Those grappling with anxiety and self-esteem issues will most certainly find a kindred spirit in Sydney."
"Sydney's struggles and battle against 'the fog' are palpable; she is a curious, smart and self-aware protagonist. Lieberman also excels at depicting Sydney's close relationship with her cantankerous grandfather."
"Brings Sydney through authentic crisis."
Gr 9 Up—Family, mental health, and sexual awakening all combine for an honest and enjoyable read. Sydney is struggling with depression and social anxiety. Other people are unpredictable and messy, especially when sex is involved, and she'd rather just hide in her closet and work toward a future where she can live alone and go biking whenever she wants. Biking helps lift the fog she fights every day. In the present, however, she must contend with a boy who makes her feel new things, her sister's mortifying production of The Vagina Monologues, and her Zeyda's declining health. Luckily for Syd, she has lots of support and professional help. Lieberman has crafted an engaging novel that takes mental illness seriously while presenting it as manageable, especially with professional help. The time Sydney spends with her supportive Jewish family and her dawning understanding of her parents and sister as individuals will make this complex character relatable to many teens. The protagonist's revelations about sex, her body, and feminism are developmentally appropriate, and many struggling teens will appreciate that Sydney continues to process these issues. Lieberman's story of a girl living with depression as she moves into womanhood will be a hit with fans of Sarah Dessen and Christine Heppermann. VERDICT Recommended for most school and public libraries.—Elizabeth Saxton, Tiffin, OH
An eleventh-grade girl wants to start a relationship but is stymied by depression and anxiety.Syd knows her depression isn't really out of control, like some people's. She can usually manage the crushing fog that weighs her down: tricking herself into getting out of bed by playing the phone game; biking around Vancouver, British Columbia, until she's exhausted; investing online with her cantankerous grandfather; eating just enough to get by. It works well enough until her lab partner, Paul, starts texting and flirting. Syd would respond in kind if she could, but she's afraid to make eye contact or have conversations with new people—how could she possibly start a relationship? Fading into the background would be ideal, but her gregarious family has other plans. Her mother, revitalizing the family Passover celebration, ropes Syd into embarrassing Jewish singalongs. Worse, Syd's vivacious sister wants to perform The Vagina Monologues for the school drama festival, and she's written her own monologue—one that uses "the c-word"! The oozing darkness that dominates Syd's thoughts is authentically represented in her present-tense narration and appropriately addressed with professional mental health treatment. Frustratingly, however, Syd's nervousness about romantic and sexual intimacy is pathologized as a curable symptom of her mental illness. An approachable, earnest, feel-good romance between a white Jewish girl and a Chinese-Canadian immigrant boy provides the flavor for a tale of recovery and empowerment. (Fiction. 13-15)